Emma nearly died twice today before 11 a.m.. Both incidents were fully preventable. Both incidents were caused because I was distracted.
The first was at 9 a.m. I was getting the five and three year-old ready for swim lessons and needed to grab their goggles from inside the Protect-a-Child pool fence. Emma followed me into the backyard and fussed at the fence, wanting to get into the pool. I quickly told her we didn’t have time and heard the gate swing shut behind me as I walked back into the sun-room, fully expecting her to follow.
Some of the items I gathered from outside were still a little wet, so instead of bringing them inside, I dropped them on the sun-porch floor and thought to look for a bag. I heard Emma continuing to fuss in the background, which is when I turned around to see her opening the pool gate.
It had closed, but had not latched.
Had I not seen her, she would have been in that pool, drowning in the next 5 seconds.
It scared me to death.
The next incident was right around 11 a.m. We had returned from swim lessons and a grocery trip and I started carrying the bags inside the house. Emma loves to play in the garage with all of her yard toys and was happily distracted with her tricycle and cars. The big girls were setting up a large blanket for our picnic.
I took one more peek at Emma in the garage before organizing lunch for the four of us, leaving the kitchen door to the garage largely cracked so I could still see her.
That’s when I heard the scream.
I ran outside, to find Emma in the middle of the street, a car stopped just in front of her. Her older sisters helplessly standing in the grass, witnessing Emma running in the road to get the ball that had rolled down the driveway.
We live on a half-acre lot but 30 seconds was all it took for Emma to make it from the garage to the middle of the road.
I had turned my back to dish out broccoli and chicken nuggets into the plates and my baby almost died. Again.
I feel foolish. I feel unqualified to be a mother. I feel angry with myself. I feel sad for my older daughters who experienced that terror and whose screams were the only reason I knew what had happened. I feel gratitude for the mercy God bestowed TWICE on my child today. I feel the need to share this story, to remind others how quickly distraction can kill.
Hindsight is 20/20. I should have double checked the pool gate like I have 1,000 other times, but today, I was in a hurry and I didn’t.
I never should have left Emma alone in the garage, even if I could see her from the kitchen, because she is 18 MONTHS OLD. But the thought of trying to prepare lunch for the four of us while she screamed and cried at the kitchen door versus her happily playing with her toys, propelled me to make that poor decision.
I tell my girls all of the time that it just takes once to break a bone, to fall, to drown, etc. I don’t want them living in perpetual fear but I do want them to understand that just because we got lucky once, doesn’t mean we will again.
We live in a world that enables multi-tasking. Bluetooth capabilities to talk while driving in our car and Apple watches on our wrist to alert us of a text as we jog. It seems there are never enough hours in a day to finish everything we want accomplished, which is why we feel proud when we are able to “kill two birds with one stone”. But at what cost?
Today, it almost cost me the life of my youngest child.
Yesterday, distraction surely caused someone else to lose theirs.
Just a week ago, I watched a chilling video that forced me to become a less-distracted driver. I started putting my phone out-of-sight in the car, as a result of this video but gradually, my phone has made its way back onto the middle console.
It seems ridiculous that I could be so careless, when this entire video is about how “better-than-most” is not sufficient. The pool fence is a step-up from no fence at all, but it’s worthless if it isn’t closed. The cracked garage door is only helpful if I keep my eye on that crack the entire time, which is impossible.
None of us is perfect, but this video and what happened to my family this morning, has been a much-needed reminder of the importance of constant-vigilance when driving and caring for children.
I’m not waiting for God to grant me any more second-chances. I’m so grateful I didn’t have to learn these lessons the most horrible, worst-way imaginable. I’m taking His grace and slowing down. I hope you will, too.